Little chocolate presents
Bonbons are molded chocolates with hardened chocolate completely encasing a flavored center. Bonbons may be filled with buttercream, nougat, ganache, or caramel. Click through the slideshow to learn the basics for making bonbons.
Water is chocolate's mortal enemy (even a little water in melted chocolate will cause it to seize up and be unusable for bonbon shells), so as you go about working, be sure that all of your tools, containers, and molds are completely dry. Melting the chocolate over hot water to temper it does place the chocolate in peril, so be sure to place a towel under bowls that have been set over water or steam.
Using cocoa butter color
If you would like to add designs to the surface of the bonbon, you must use colored cocoa butter, which comes in its solid state in a bottle. To use, place in a pot of water that has been brought to a boil (shut the burner off first), and allow the cocoa butter to melt. Shake the bottle periodically to help the process along.
Decorate the molds
If using cocoa butter, remember that it is important to use a very thin layer to avoid having bonbons that appear chipped with patchy dull spots. Once you've painted the design onto the mold, place the mold in the fridge for several minutes to allow the cocoa butter to set.
Tempering is important
To give the bonbon shells a shiny, smooth, appearance and a snappy texture, tempering is vitally important. For a tutorial on tempering, check out this article by Liz Gutman, which explains it perfectly.
Prepare and fill the molds
Once the chocolate is tempered, quickly warm the mold by waving it over a lit stove or placing it in the oven for a minute (watch carefully, depending on the material from which the mold is made, it may melt). Then, pour tempered chocolate into each one of the cavities in the mold.
Pour off the excess chocolate
Allow the chocolate to sit in the cavities for 10 seconds, then flip the mold over and allow the excess to drip off into the bowl.
Tap to release more excess
Then, tap the edge of the mold to release even more of the excess chocolate. The aim is to have a shell that is thin, but solid enough to support whatever goes inside.
Scrape off the excess
Use a metal scraper to scrape off the excess chocolate from the surface of the mold. My favorite tool for chocolate is a metal paint scraper, which I bought at the hardware store.
Scrape the top clean
Make sure to level the top, which will make it easier to seal the chocolates later in the process. Place the mold into the fridge for 2-3 minutes to help the shells set (do not leave the mold in for a prolonged period of time, which will expose it to moisture).
Prepare the molds for filling
If you would like a solid component inside your bonbon, like a sprinkle of sea salt or a hazelnut, add it first, for easier filling. In this photo, I am sprinkling some sea salt into the shells.
Pipe the filling
Using a piping bag fitted with a fine tip or a piece of parchment rolled into a cone, pipe the bonbon filling into each shell, being very careful to fill it a few millimeters below the edge of the mold. Overfilling will cause the bonbons to leak filling.
Cover the bonbon with chocolate
To finish the bonbons, pipe chocolate over the top and the filling.
Scrape off the excess
Then, use the metal scraper to remove all of the excess, leaving a coating of chocolate over each cavity. A clean scraping will facilitate an easier release from the mold. Place the mold back in the fridge for 2-3 minutes, but do not leave the mold in the fridge for a prolonged period of time.
What to do with excess chocolate
When making bonbons, there is always a fair amount of chocolate left over. Scrape all of this chocolate onto parchment and allow it to cool and harden at room temperature. Then wrap tightly and store. This chocolate may be used for all kinds of baking or chocolate projects, but should not be used as the "seeds" during tempering.
Release the hardened chocolates
Flex the molds slightly to release the chocolates within.
Turn out the bonbons
Turn the mold over onto a clean, dry surface to release the chocolates from the mold. Remove them from the surface, then bang the mold against the counter to release any stubborn bonbons.
Sealed little vessels, fun surprises inside
And there you have it. Custom bonbons, made at home. They make beautiful gifts and nothing says love like homemade.